The world is becoming increasingly more digital. Consequently, more of us are sharing personal information online. Such information may include everything from our address to our bank details. While sharing this information is often necessary, it’s important to have security measures in place—otherwise this information could fall into the wrong hands (i.e. hackers).
Hackers may be planning to use your data to commit fraud themselves or they may be planning to sell it onto other fraudsters. Your data could be used to extort money from you or even to commit crimes in your name. Either way, it could cause a lot of damage.
Businesses have to be particularly careful. After all, it may not just be your own personal information that is likely to be at risk—you are in possession of private data belonging to employees and customers too. If this information gets stolen, there could be a lot of negative backlash and your reputation could be ruined.
There are lots of ways in which hackers will attempt to gain access to private data, however there are three strategies that are particularly popular. By guarding yourself against these three hacker strategies, you can prevent any of the data you possess being stolen and misused.
Here are the three biggest ways in which hackers could be targeting your private data right now:
1. Increasing Social Engineering Attacks with Phishing Emails
A phishing email is an email sent by a hacker in order to get access to private data. In these emails, hackers will usually try to pose as a trusted entity (such as a bank or the government or local police) in the hope that you willingly give up log-in details and other information.
These emails may contain links leading to fake versions of websites or links that download viruses onto your computer when you click on them.
While phishing emails can be very convincing, there are a few signs that can often help you to determine whether an email is legitimate or not. These include:
- An unofficial sender address
- An impersonalized greeting (e.g. ‘Dear member’ instead of using your name)
- Spelling/grammar errors
- Suspicious-looking links
- The email has ended up in your spam folder
By training yourself and your employees to look out for these signs, you can prevent your company from falling victim to these types of hackers. Official companies will rarely ask you to reply directly via email when asking for personal information. If they ask you to click on a link to update or confirm details, it may be safer to manually visit the website yourself rather than clicking on the link.
2. Exploiting Weak Networks
Hackers may also try to gain access to private data by exploiting an unsecured network. Even when working from a private network, there could still be weaknesses that hackers are able to exploit. A few common signs that your network could be vulnerable include:
- Not using a VPN
- Not using multi-factor authentication
- Allowing employees to bring in their own devices without clear BYOD policies in place
The best way to strengthen your company network is to invest in professional support from an IT provider who offers cybersecurity services. These companies can help to protect your business from hackers by setting up processes such as multi-factor authentication and by making sure that all devices used within your business are secure.
Network vulnerabilities can differ from each company, so it’s worth hiring a professional company that can examine your own unique infrastructure in order to offer personalized support.
3. Infiltrating Unmonitored Systems
It’s much easier for hackers to plan a coordinated cyberattack and probe for weaknesses if you’re not monitoring your systems. Many business systems go unmonitored, while others may only be monitored at certain times of the day (i.e. during standard working hours, if you currently in-house employees to manage your security).This is another reason as to why it can be worth outsourcing cybersecurity services.
Managed Service Providers can provide 24/7 monitoring so that your systems are constantly being screened for weaknesses. Such vulnerabilities can then be immediately patched, allowing you to fend off hackers. This is particularly important when it comes to zero-day vulnerabilities in which there could be an immediate threat of being targeted.
No company can expect to do all their own monitoring, unless they’re able to hire a team of in-house IT technicians to work around-the-clock. Outsourcing cybersecurity services tends to be much more affordable, making it a more practical option for many small to mid-sized businesses.
By understanding the strategies hackers use to attack your systems, you can better prepare yourself to defend against the latest attacks.